Guard Moves to New Online Pay, Personnel System
The Army National Guard has fully transitioned to the Army’s modernized human resources system, becoming the first component to make the leap from a 1970s-era system of delays and lost paperwork to an electronic system accessible quickly and remotely by every soldier.
The Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army (IPPS-A) is an online, data-driven human resources system that combines personnel, pay and talent management capabilities into a single place. On March 24, there were 331,000 National Guard soldiers using it live, officials said.
The move comes as thousands of Army National Guard soldiers are mobilized to help their local communities combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The goal is to complete fielding IPPS-A to the entire Army by December 2021, Roy Wallace, assistant deputy chief of staff of the Army for personnel, said during a March 31 virtual media roundtable. At that point, he said, there will be more than 1 million soldiers using it.
Wallace, a retired finance and accounting officer who “spent 27 years of my adult life paying soldiers and keeping an over 30-year-old payroll system alive,” said this new system is “a game changer” for National Guard soldiers and will be for everyone once the transition to the entire Army is completed.
“We were paying our soldiers in an industrial age methodology; today, we’re moving toward that information age with IPPS-A, and as of the 24th of March, we have all 54 states and territories of the Army National Guard on it,” Wallace said.
With more than 14,000 members of the Army National Guard mobilized in support of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, the system has proven its worth, said Lt. Col. June Copeland, a senior National Guard IPPS-A liaison.
The IPPS-A, she said, can code soldiers’ pay according to the mission they are performing. “It doesn’t say whether a soldier is supporting the hospital, but it says whether the soldier is supporting a state active-duty versus a national-level active-duty” mission, she explained.
Wallace noted that once it is fielded to the Regular Army and Army Reserve, the IPPS-A system will provide an unprecedented view of the total Army, including details of individual soldiers’ talents and skills. The IPPS-A system, he said, will also make obsolete myriad workarounds developed over the decades to audit the system.
Col. Gregory Johnson, chief of the IPPS-A functional management division, described the effort of getting the Guard onto the system as “monumental.”
“This is good news from us. We find it ecstatic,” Johnson said. “The National Guard kind of led the Army into the future.”
Johnson said the Guard is “setting the foundation” to operationalize the Army People Strategy, an initiative introduced by Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville when he took over as chief in September. The IPPS-A system is a cornerstone of McConville’s initiative, which prioritizes soldiers, families and Army civilians.
Concerns about privacy with the new system have been addressed with the establishment of a set of permissions, Wallace said. For example, a battalion’s companies cannot see one another’s data, but the battalion leadership can. Along those lines, a battalion’s information is not visible to other battalions, but it is to the brigade commander.
“The director of the Army Guard can see all of his Army Guard units, but perhaps Alabama can’t see Illinois,” Wallace said. “Because in order to protect privacy, the system allows you to see what you are in control of.”